Once in a job interview at a liberal arts college I spent a half-hour or so with the college president–not a typical experience at larger institutions, but it does happen at smaller institutions. The president was affable but relatively conservative, at least in the context of a liberal arts college, and he was interested in my work, much of which has to do with gender and the military.
He went to some lengths to explain his views on women in combat, which boiled down to having women in front line units undermines the combat effectiveness of men, who will “instinctively” act to defend, impress, and protect them, even when it might undermine the mission.
In response, I said: “Well, as a professional researcher I would have to treat that as an empirical question to be investigated.”
I felt a little like I’d done a bit of an Aikido move on him, since he’d previously explained his preference for empirically-grounded work in the social sciences–e.g., “I mean, show me the numbers!”
I don’t recommend this sort of maneuver in job interviews, though the president was not an official part of the process, I didn’t get that job. But it did leave me to think about the sorts of reactions people have to the issue of women in combat–including people who have never been in the military, much less under fire.
As is often the case, The Onion, has one of the most interested takes on the decision–at the recommendation of the uniformed services–to end the ban on women serving in combat roles in the U.S. armed forces.